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The Apple Wishlist: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
3. Remote control and management: Idea 1

With fast networks and home broadband service becoming commonplace, it has become feasible to work remotely and necessary to manage machines from other locations. The third article of the Mac OS X Leopard Wishlist describes ideas for remote control and management.

There is more than one way to deliver remote display features. Unix, Windows and Mac OS X approach the problem of remote display differently, reflecting the different motivations of the involved vendors.

To see what is possible, or at least desirable, in Leopard, read the related article A Brief History of Remote Display which provides a look at what Apple, Microsoft, NeXT, MIT, Oracle and Sun have developed.

Idea 1: Remote display
Mac OS X Leopard needs to provide an easy to use tool that provides a subset of the administrative functions of Apple Remote Desktop. Like ARD, it would provide remote hardware reporting and software installation features, but it would be accessible enough for mere mortals to set up and get working through a firewall. After following some easy steps, they'd have mom's desktop visible from across the country to assist her with iPhotos and installing the latest security updates.

This is not a technical challenge at all; Apple already includes a VNC server installed in Tiger, and they already ship a remote management tool for Mac OS X Server, called Server Admin, that provides abilities similar to a remote System Profiler.

Apple just needs to put these together in a simple application for setting up a VNC remote display session (why should users need to download a shareware VNC client application?) and accessing remote System Profiler information.

"Remote Desktop Express" would be a simple marketing name for enabling the capacity that's already there. It would also deliver a clear and obvious feature for selling Leopard.

For extra points, Apple could integrate Remote Desktop Express with some simple whiteboarding tools and deliver it as a full featured video conferencing too, and sell extra iSight cameras to boot.

Some companies are still paying for H.323 based video conferencing appliances; why Apple hasn't banged on that market with the appropriate hammer I can't explain. iChat AV is a good start, but it needs to be filled out a bit. By integrating its IM and video conferencing features with whiteboarding, remote desktop, and brainless document sharing in Remote Desktop Express, Apple would cover the remote collaboration bases nicely.

Idea 2: Remote management

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